Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review: IF I STAY by Gayle Forman

Title: If I Stay
Author: Gayle Forman
Series: If I Stay #1
Published Date: April 2, 2009
On a day that started like any other,

Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, admiring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. In an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the only decision she has left. It is the most important decision she'll ever make.

Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting, and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving.

Thoughts: I'd heard rave reviews about this book all over the internet, and from a few friends. So when the trailer for the upcoming movie adaptation was released a couple of months ago (and I cried like a baby just at the trailer,) I knew I'd have to pick up this duology and read it before the movie came out. So we (my Mom and I) picked them up at Target for 20% off. 

I really enjoyed the book. It raises so many questions about mortality, family, friendship and romance. You begin the book knowing that something horrible is going to happen to Mia, so the first chapter is automatically full of tension as you wait for the inevitable. When the crash happens, Forman skips the actual crash and goes straight from driving to the aftermath, which is extremely abrupt but powerful. 

Mia is such an interesting character, being a classical cellist coming from a punk-rock family. It's a combination you don't often see in YA. Usually, it's the straight-laced parents and the rebellious teenager, so Mia is a breath of fresh air. Her flashback narrations shed a lot of light on her parents, as well, making them fully fleshed out characters. And Kim is a great YA best friend. 

And Adam. Oh, Adam. Such a swoon-worthy YA boyfriend. Adam is more like Mia's parents than she is, and while their relationship has it's problems, they are realistic and nuanced problems, with no sense of melodrama in sight. 

Unfortunately, the nature of Mia's narration means that she does not feel things fully, physically or emotionally. Because of this, I felt it a little hard to feel completely emotionally invested in the story. It was sad, obviously, but I didn't connect with the sadness because Mia didn't connect with the sadness fully. 

I liked it. I didn't LOVE it like I thought I would, but I liked it. The framework of the day at the hospital allows Mia to think back on other events in her life, illuminating the backstories little by little and making every character feel like an important part of the narrative, even the smallest characters only mentioned a few times. 

I'm starting the sequel, Where She Went, and hopefully will enjoy it just as much, or maybe even more! 

Rating: 3.5/5 stars 

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